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Education Portables Privacy

Lower Merion School District Update 367

Mike_EE_U_of_I and jargon82 were among a number of readers who sent an update on the Lower Merion School District webcam spying case (see Related Stories for our discussions of the affair over the last couple of months). The school had originally stated that capturing laptop photos in students' homes had only happened 42 times. It turns out what they meant was that there were 42 instances when they began intensive surveillance on the suspected stolen computers. This consisted of (among other things) transmitting a picture from the laptop's webcam every 15 minutes. This may have gone on for weeks. In total, it appears that there were thousands of photos. One of the key administrators involved has been answering all questions about the program by invoking the Fifth Amendment.
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Lower Merion School District Update

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  • Re:Lightbulb? (Score:3, Informative)

    by noodler ( 724788 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:04PM (#31873730)

    He is a she...

  • by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:15PM (#31873856)

    Anyone can invoke the 5th amendment if they believe that answering the question will incriminate them. It doesn't matter if they are on trial or not. If you were accused of murder, and I saw you do it while I was across the street robbing a convenience store, I might choose to invoke the 5th rather than explain what I was doing while I saw you commit your act.

  • For the love of... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Skyppey ( 196275 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:16PM (#31873870)
    She [citypaper.net] is [philly.com] a woman [philly.com]! Let it show for the record:

    Carol Cafiero, who had previously sought to quash a subpoena ordering her to testify, refused to answer questions pertaining to the district's controversial practice of remotely activating webcams on Apple MacBooks issued to high-school students.

    It was like a window into "a little LMSD soap opera," a staffer is quoted as saying in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program. "I know, I love it," she is quoted as having replied.

  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:16PM (#31873872)


    It's always been that way. The whole innocent until proven guilty concept is actually quite radical - and even then it only applies to the governments assumptions - private citizens are free to assume whatever they want.

  • Some additional info (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:20PM (#31873928)

    So here's some more additional info [citypaper.net]. The family which sued failed to pay a $55 insurance policy on the laptop. Now, I'm not saying that the surveillance was justified only that the missed payments may have triggered suspicions whether the laptop had been stolen. Of course, once the school determined that the laptop wasn't stolen, all surveillance should have stopped.

  • by phooka.de ( 302970 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:20PM (#31873942)

    just watch this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc [youtube.com]
    Absolutely must see.

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:31PM (#31874058) Homepage Journal

    therefor, when you refuse to answer questions on those grounds, you indicate that you believe at least one of two things:

    • You're guilty of the crime you're charged with
    • You're guilty of another crime

    By your logic, it is impossible to invoke the Fifth Amendment without admitting belief in your own guilt...

    Such thinking is wrong, of course, and defeats most of the purpose of the Amendment... One may be perfectly innocent and do the invoking merely to ease their defense, for example...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:33PM (#31874094)

    Correct, you should always take the 5th. Investigators and prosecutors are not there to help you and if you think you're there to help them you misunderstand the relationship.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:36PM (#31874138)

    I hope so. Then it becomes a CP case.

    But this is bad news. It looks like they have found their patsy, and it is this woman. This woman does indeed deserve severe punishment, as she has seen much of the content and was making fun of the kids and families (according to the local channel 29 news). My fear is that it will stop at this IT administrator, and the school board, and the administration will get off scot-free.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:42PM (#31874222)
    she... was making fun of the kids and families

    Gee, a public servant with utter contempt for the people she is being paid to serve... what a surprise!
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:43PM (#31874252) Homepage

    The Fifth Amendment reads "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". Not "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to incriminate himself". So no, we don't know that you're guilty of something, only that you've refused to be a witness in your case.

    Every single (fair) judge in the country will instruct a jury that did not hear the defendant's testimony that they cannot infer anything from the fact that the defendant did not testify. That's established precedent.

  • I agree with much of what you said, and the overall feeling - I prefer common sense instead of corner case laws.

    Gays at the prom? Because there is no equal protection under the law for gays, and too many people in american society still view gay relationships as evil. Allowing gays in the right conservative school district will get you just as sued.

    I just wanted to point out many states (as well as Canada) have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity entirely and the US recently recently passed ENDA.

    Civil Rights from Stanford Encyclopedia [stanford.edu]
    Employment Non-Discrimination Act [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Lightbulb? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:14PM (#31874684)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik [youtube.com]

    Mr. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former defense attorney, tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

  • Re:Lightbulb? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:43PM (#31875136)
    The summary is badly misworded (whether by mistake or intentionally is left to your judgement). The article that is linked to says that she answered questions at her deposition by pleading the Fifth ammendment. That means that when she was questioned by the plaintiff's attorney under oath she pled the Fifth. Which is always the best decision. If you are ever questioned under oath by an attorney who is out to get you, plead the Fifth or you are likely to be charged with perjury for answering a question incorrectly because you forgot (or someone else remembers the situation differently. Look what happened to "Scooter" Libby).
  • by Aldenissin ( 976329 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:17PM (#31875622)

    And I am pretty sure the moment that you do, you will likely lose immunity according to terms of said immunity agreement. So, they just have to leave the best for last, and then everything you said beforehand can now be used against you, since immunity is now null and void. A good attorney can negotiate what you can't be questioned on as a condition of your testimony in exchange for immunity.

  • Re:Lightbulb? (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:25PM (#31875742) Homepage

    I'll undo about 10 points of moderation to comment here.

    No. You're free to keep your mouth shut when being interrogated by police or in a courtroom if that information may incriminate you in any crime.

    You can still be compelled to testify about another person, under threat of contempt and jail. A good example would be you being ordered by a judge to testify regarding a crime you're aware of, but did not participate in. If you did participate in it though, you could still invoke the 5th amendment and simply tell the judge you believe your testimony may be incriminating.

    The right to not incriminate yourself is nearly universal, and for good reason. The original intent was not to allow guilty people to hide behind a legal shield, but to prevent innocent people from being forced to testify against themselves.

    In a police state, without the 5th amendment, the police can very easily coerce confessions for crimes people didn't commit. This is one reason why even sometimes a confession isn't an open & shut case. Under some circumstances, the confession is tossed out due to 5th amendment rights. In some cases, something as simple as the interrogator sitting between the door and the suspect has been used, because such can be interpreted as coercion of someone who is otherwise free to leave at any time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:30PM (#31875830)

    You listed two great phrases for your examples, but please let me add one that I think is also very important, "I do not consent to a search." Don't let Police bully you into giving up your rights, even if you are innocent! Police will essentially try to convince you that only guilty people need rights, but it's a lie. Of course, IANAL.

  • Re:Lightbulb? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:58PM (#31876194)

    I believe that would be "make me a sammich!"

  • by Chris Tucker ( 302549 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:51PM (#31879728) Homepage

    "dyed in the wool moron to believe that crap."

    Like Tim McVeigh. He fell for that whole thing to the point of having home made license tags on his car. Because sovereign citizens don't NEED state issued tags.

    That's what brought him to the attention of a cop, who stopped him and saw, if I recall correctly, a pistol on the seat next to McVeigh.

    And that's how the prototeabagger schmuck McVeigh was caught after he destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, 19 years ago.

  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @11:53AM (#31882028)

    I was driving a car once and got pulled over. The cop wanted to search our car and I declined. He asked why; I didn't answer that question, and just repeated that I declined. He asked again. He offered to tear up my (very large) ticket if he could search. I declined, because I knew he would very quickly find weed in the car and in the pockets of everyone in the car. The four people in the car all would have gone to jail that night, but instead we drove away and I paid later the ticket.

    The car belonged to one of the passengers. She told me she was stunned all during the interaction, because she did not know that she had the legal right to decline a search. She said if the cop had asked her, she would have assented.

    Know your rights. It's fucking important.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.